Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Historical battle of Vitoria game

"hey wait for us!" Action from the game.  (Prussian artillery follows the advance of von Hill). 

I host an annual ‘Big Napoleonic Mystery Battle” each summer and invite the regular players of our developing rules of GdC for an all day affair.  I am always pleased that James and Ron from Oregon make the long 250km trek to join me along with DaveB from the Island (also a bit of a trek with the ferry and all) to come to Surrey BC, Canada to participate in my ‘mystery’ historical battle. Unfortunately SethT of Seattle had pressing work commitments and had to bow out shortly before the date.   I kept the scenario in the realm of Napoleonics this time with the Battle of Vitoria, Spain, 1813 but using my Prussians and Russian in lieu of the British, Portuguese and Spanish of Wellington’s army.

Couple of the locals, ChrisP and KevinA took Dalhousie/Picton’s command and D’Erlon’s French together with Joseph’s small “Royal” contingents ,respectively.   The French commands of Gazan and Reille would be DaveB’s.  He is experienced enough to handle these important forces.  James and Ron decided to stay on the same side (so able to trade the war stories on the ride home!) and thus took Colesky (the historical Gen. Cole but as we were using his own Russians….) and Ron, the Prussians under “von Hill” (obviously the British General Hill).  This left Graham and his Russians ‘Grahamsky’ under my usual dubious command.
Colesky moving across the bridge while to the left, von Hill's forces advance between the river and the heights near Subijana.  Gazan's French are doing rear guard action while the majority of that force is already turned about for the withdrawal at Arinez.

The deployments and numbers were kept as historical as possible.  Thus Cole and Hill came in from the east end of the table to try to pin the French while Dalhousie/Picton “von Pikton” came over the eastern most of the northern crossings of the Zadorra River.  Graham, “Grahamsky” , was to take the furthest of the crossings to trap the French in the valley from their escape route to the east.

Unlike the French command in 1813,  the French of the game, looked at the table and concluded the trap was on and proceeded to set up for an immediate general retreat eastward only restricted by my scenario deployments.
Ron and James contemplate the situation. The pressures of High Command!
The height of the battle with the French defence of the "central hill" collapsing.

Despite some initial set-backs, the Allies of James and Ron, aggressively pursued the French forcing them to make a concerted stand near Chrispijana.  ChrisP added his numbers to the attack on this position. The French needed to slow the Allied advance all the while retreating elements east before the door would close from Graham’s force.  Perhaps luckily for the French, I was commanding Graham and, like the historic commander, I could only slowly deploy my forces against the French LOC to Pamplona toward the north east corner of the battlefield. However with the French unable to do much than cover Graham with artillery from coming directly via the Gammara Mayor crossing,  Graham committed forces spread out to the further crossing at Durana but with that, completely cutting off that route to the French retreaters (as was done historically).
....meanwhile in the east, Grahamsky's forces are met with accurate artillery from across the river and Reille's forces crossing the river.  While the town fight for Gamorra Mayor did not occur in the game, DaveB did accomplish much like Reille did to delay Graham's "closing of the door" in the actual battle
While I did much the poor effort that Graham did in 1813, I did manage to block the main retreat road of the French which was enough. Photo of the lead Russian light cavalry.  Infantry and artillery support would follow.

The final turn had us play 20 turns (some 10 hours of battle which started late in the morning real time in 1813) The famous looting of Joseph’s wagons and treasures gathered from all of Spain was not completed however as the French (the wagons under the command of KevinA’s “Joseph’s Spainish Royal” contingent)  were driven away just in front of the pursuing Allies, thereby giving the French some small argument that it was only a minor Allied victory….
But despite the lack of the wagons capture, the battle went basically to historic form with the French to be shortly expelled from Spain.

James playing “Colesky” (the historical command of the British General Cole) provides the following AAR of the action:
“ I thought the Allies would be the aggressors to kick things off, with Colesky coming across the western bridge and von Hill having sneaked up on the dastardly French from the south end of the hills. We should have easily pushed through the French defense, even with Picton dallying around (waiting for double evens(*), which came the 2nd turn!). Colesky made the decision to forgo splitting his command and making use of the hidden ford(^) to maintain a firmer control of his troops as the PiP cost of moving some elements out of command would have impacted the command’s ability to move forward.
James' own Pavlograd Hussars leading the assault

 Gazan surprised us by going on the offensive. The French cavalry stymied our movement, forcing us to deal with them and allowing for a retreat behind the hills east of Ariñez and what looked to be a full-on withdrawal. Gazan was able to check the allied thrust for four turns, causing a loss of both horse artillery bases and making Colesky rethink things (by forcing a moral check which caused a fallback result). Picton was making his presence felt crossing the Zaddora. 

Having absorbed the initial French push, Colesky and von Pikton began their push. In a bit of combined arms, the Pavlograd Hussars forced a French infantry element into square which was subsequently assaulted and destroyed by some Russian infantry. Ariñez was taken the following turn and the race was on, as the three Allied commands began pushing eastward. Picton began taking substantial fire from d’Erlon. Von Pikton screened Chrispijana and advanced as well. Grahamsky decided to show up and began blocking the main retreat line of the French. 

Gazan and d’Erlon massed behind the central hill and at this point, it could have gone either way. The Allies amasses on the opposite side, but the loss of Colesky’s foot artillery (I’m sensing a theme...) caused another fallback. Von Pikton, after a whiff of grape removed the last of the French cavalry, pushed forward and forced Gazan to rout. Colesky finished off Gazan with another feat of combined arms. Grahamsky stubbornly denied the line of retreat. As night fell, the French were in retreat and the Allies the controllers the field. “

(*Note): This was the scenario trying to simulate Dalhousie’s cautious approach. Eventually the historical Picton would be so frustrated and take things into his own hands and order his division into the action (for which I committed the entire force).  ChrisP, being his usual lucky self, achieved the rather difficult dice in a very short time and so went to the attack quickly.
(^Note):  The ford, the location of which was not disclosed to the French, was the one Kempt and his Light Division used upon being advised by a local Spanish peasant. In future, Cole will be given the option to use some of his force for this purpose without hindrance of that distant command for his PiP amount for a historical scenario design.
James's own Russians...looking good in their attack

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The big battle style....

The previous post had a 6mm big battle which each element was brigade strength.  My Napoleonic rules employ a similar ratio but using 28mm figures (but obviously fewer of them for the ‘footprint’!)
Here are some pictures of a Waterloo refight done a while back.  The area of this game would be but a square foot or two on Kevin’s table, but I assume (due to being a historical refight) all the fun maneuvering has already been done (all the corps been committed to one area of the countryside or the other like Grouchy and Gerard's) and the true tactical fighting is to begin……
Looking from the north-east 
the view Napoleon might have witnessed
and that of Wellington

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Mini Gettysburg - Day 1

The monthly ClubNight had KevinA, the Micro King, put on his “three-day Gettysburg in an evening” game.  Spoiler: it only went to the end of the first day, but it was an interesting game.

We, the all knowing gods, could indeed see all the 14 by 11 miles of the field of battle and surrounding territory but still with the long distances the troops could travel in a turn (some four hours game time) things moved quickly and so kept the mysteries alive.  I didn’t quite know in which direction the Union troops would take and that was mirrored in my own decision for the entry of Longstreet’s corps, the third and last to arrive.  Go north and reinforce Hill and meet the onslaught of the masses of Union troops arriving in a couple of turns, or go slowly across country to mass against the isolated Union corps on this side of the the Round Top ridge line?  After some internal deliberation, I choose the latter.  The pressures of higher command!

After setting up the classic - pin the front, threaten the flank, and finally “hit the hinge” maneuver - so loved by Napoleon, my dice (and the Union commander ChrisP’s good dice) failed me. All five attacks failed and my forces were pushed back and bloodied.  The main attack I set up on the hinge unit itself had my 12 dice to the Union’s 5 only to have me to roll 40% success to the Union’s 80%! Ugh.  Did Napoleon have to endure that?!

Thus ended Day 1 and the game unfortunately as time ran out.  While not really feasible in only four hours, with experienced players with the rules, and a full day to play, yes, Gettysburg could be done.  The rules were  “Bonnie Blue Flag” HEAVILY adapted by KevinA.  Diced for command points use is crucial.  Combat dicey but simple.

The overall look and feel was good.  I like the 6mm for the grand tactical effect. Each stand represents a brigade of some 2500 men.  The long ‘operational moves’ (infantry stands could move up to 12 inches off road and 18inches (!) on road) meant corps would be quick to be placed in the battle but real thought would be to where, as once in battle that is really where they would remain and die.

yes, a board game could do the same, but it would not have the visual 3D look now would it?
Buford's cavalry before the Lutheran Seminary.  Their commander choose not to fight there and retreated to the hills beyond Gettysburg thereby changing the game from a historical to a what-if.  
Union has the darker blue labels, the Rebs the whiter ones. The player commanding Hill's corps departed suddenly so I was left with what he had done.  Like Robbie Lee trying to make sense of what was what when he arrived on the battlefield I suppose.....
The red beads represent disorder. Note my Rebs have a lot of them, and lots of hits too... The infamous "hinge" was near the location of the blue die and marks the high point of Confederacy in this game!

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Medieval ‘LR’ clash

With a slow rotation of games (telling me I have way too many armies/eras/‘projects’ already) we tend to forget the rules and spend quite a bit of the game asking ourselves “what happens now? The rule is?”

Trying to keep fresh on the Lion Rampant rules, I invited the guys over for a simple ‘refresher’ game.  Not knowing the numbers of fellows I placed down terrain, said “you English over there, we French over here”, gave out personal objects randomly (I was the only one who gave THAT any thought) and went at it.  No planning or battle strategy.  Very medieval that.

The only real innovation came with my introduction of a deck of playing cards for initiative.  As we had four players, each player was assigned a card suit from the deck.  With each card of that suit drawn the player then could try to activate any of his units.  If fail or activated, a marker is placed indicating that unit is done.  Eventually, all the players units would have been used. Once that happens, all the markers are removed and should his suit card be drawn he once again can nominate any of the un-activated units to be diced for.  Once the deck has been used up all players would have had an equal number of activations.  Not necessarily on a consistent basis, but eventually at the end.  We did have one player have five of his cards come up in a row (!) thus he was able to try to activate all his units one-after-another with one of the units doing this twice but with only 13 draws per player, it eventually evens out.
With this, rather than the I-go-you-go or heaven forbid the one fail you're out (per original rules), it creates more action and natural flow of the play.  Of course this can be for any game to get away from predictable player sequence.  Anyway it was agreed it did help with the play.

Pictures of the game.  All figures are mine and painted by moi.  (I was using my newly painted Dunkerque liveried types - in yellow and white with the bright blue dolphin and black on yellow shields)  Historically note: Dunkirk/Dunkerque was not actually French but Flemish during this time of c.1350 - the time of the Battle of Crecy and the armour styles portrayed on the figures. D’oh.  Didn't discover that tidbit until after painting them. Let’s over look that historical inaccuracy shall we…..
Dunkerque mixed yeomen militia (sheep optional)
massed English archers
Having achieved my 'personal objective' by burning the farmhouse, the yeomen will enter the battle.  The 'shield' 'marker indicating that unit has rolled for activation and cannot be chosen until after all the players units have done so.
Apparently this lad wanted to make sure the flames got it all.
my new straw fences using real pine fir needles! ....and lots of glue...
and yet more English archers behind stone fences.  The French really could not win this battle/game.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Postnaya Bridge 1941 WaT game

Having winter terrain (my Retreat from Moscow game) and Russian early war tanks models, I thought that I might be tempted to do the ‘frozen gates of Moscow’ Nov-Dec.,1941and do WaT with a winter style.

I invited a bunch of the guys over with tank models to have a go at these clear rules. After a quite a long discussion over sizing (who knew that the difference between 1:48 and 1:56 could be so much!) and it was determined that my KV-1A model was 1:48 scale and so we went with that.  Jim brought his Matilda II, in jungle dark green(!); ChrisP brought a Stuart (a lend-lease not offered until 1942 so we cheated a bit there and he was reluctant to apply a whitewash over a rather bright green color-scheme.  I used the big KV-1a along with the truck full of engineers and explosives for the scenario.

On the German side, Gord grabbed one of Bill’s numerous builds, the non-white-washed 38, while Bill used the other with an artistic whitewash motif.  Clayton used my T-34 with German markings as the third tank.  The points were even for each side with 3 tanks aside.
The Germans move into the town 

The Russians were trying to blow the critical bridge before the Germans foremost troop of armour could control it and the town.  Lots of manoeuvring and die rolling in this game but the Germans got to the town first and concealed themselves well, awaiting the Russian advance.  The Russians need the engineers to blow the bridge; but as we can see, it was not to be, so Jim and his Matilda had to destroy it with shot.  Chris’  Stuart tank, we nicknamed “Stewie” was unfortunately brewed near the end of the game, the only casualty.
Germans position themselves.  The t-34(r) is holding the right flank (top)

But the bridge’s destruction was after Bill, in a rather bold move - either silly or a brilliant tactical maneuver depending upon result - used a fist full of Drive Dice to move out of the town, over the bridge and move swiftly around to the flank of the slow turreted KV in order to destroy the truck from behind its KV protector.  Russian panic enthused with my dice rolling slowly spinning the KV around with slow turret movement while the truck [we gave it command dice for movement only - for those knowing the rules the Drive Dice and Wild Dice as usual and with the Acquire Dice convertible to a Drive Dice but only if on the road.  All other Command Dice were ignored] needed to go off road to get away from the rampaging German tank.  While with all this slow motion maneuvering (I was rolling low for movement inches) it managed to block the line of site of the KV to its attacker which did not help.  Bill was relieved to have survived the Russian beast and promptly blew up the truck and the engineers and all their explosives within.
Bill's small but fast 38 vs my lumbering KV1a.  The Lorry driver is attempting to move away off-road but the tires are obviously slipping in the mud;  at least that is what the very low dice rolls suggest!
..then the truck finally can move down the road next turn only to move slow enough to block the KV's line of sight!
...and pays the price.   The lorry is a MDF from Warbases and I bought just for fun.  I added a 'canvas' cover (a large bluejeans clothing label of all things!) and realized I could add it to the collection. It looks the part of a 1930's design Russian truck of the early war with a wargamer's squint.

The KV, without the need to protect the truck, and too slow to engage the fast 38, lumbered forward to engage its original target of Clayton’s T-34(r).  We extended the game another turn as the destruction of that tank would not allow the Germans to maintain their scenario conditions.  However, no further effects were made and both sides had achieved minor victories.  I hope the boys enjoyed the play on the white cloth of Russia....

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Happy Waterloo Day

To everyone,
Happy Waterloo Day!!
the two hundred and third edition.....

a photo from the perhaps ninth game (!) of the Battle of Waterloo (1815) with deployments per the historical example on a element = brigade level. Very hard for Napoleon to win in any event.  In all those games (and most had excluded or reduced the Prussian involvement) only once did the Allies lose and only because the "Picton" player did a very foolish thing and charge over the ridge and into the grand battery AND again the Prussians did not arrive.  While a French victory it still could have gone either way; so hard one for the French to be victorious.
my 28mm Napoleonics - mostly Perry Miniatures

Anyway the 'Battle of La Belle Alliance' (as it SHOULD be known but Wellington was, of course, SO obnoxiously British....) is always a favourite to play.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

"Ney's Folly" Enfilade 2019

In my third hosted game the critical part of the Battle of Waterloo was reenacted having Marshal Ney order much of the French cavalry unsupported over the crest line of the ridge only to find themselves unable to break the Allies infantry squares and be met with the one coming squadrons of Allied horse to force them away.

Preface:  one year ago at the 2018 one of our suites after-hours drinking beer... we decided that "it would be cool" to combine the Lion Rampant medieval rules to the showy uniforms and dash of the Napoleonic era into a fun ruleset.  I was tasked with making it happen.  After many trials, some of which have been previously documented in this blog, the rules seem to have operated well especially after having undergone a major trial of a convention setting, having 14 players move around 28 units ..and my voice virtually at a whisper from speaking in the din for the entire day.  Nevertheless, it seemed to go along well for all the players many of which painted up their favourite Waterloo units specifically for this game.

  I cannot describe much/any of the action as I was involved clarifying to the many players the charging procedures (a bit tricky at first but with experience players seemed to have them understood) but I wanted interesting action and not your standard "you set up there and they set up opposite" deployment.  So I had each side dice for their position in a random method: French from the south and west, the Allies from north and east. THAT produced some interesting angles!  I also used random bases of casualty figures as "terrain pieces" to provide delays in movement and charging (horses don't like treading on dead things and so will cause problems for the riders!)

Battle of Dresden - at Enfilade 2019

Battle of Dresden

This Napoleonic battle of 1813, was the second largest of the wars.  Our developing ‘big-battle’ rules is specifically designed to play these massive affairs but even these are challenged by the size.  However, the Allied command conveniently did not utilize large portions of their numbers and to fit it comfortably into a single game session with a convention table restriction and time restraints, I reduced the element numbers by some third.

As with the dedicated group enjoying these rules, the players each painted up their own command with a common basing which really helps with the look of the game increasing its ‘visual continuity’.  We had DaveB with his commands of Mortier (the French Imperial Guard foot) and Ney (the Young Guard), St. Cyr by James, all the Austrians done and commanded by Seth and the remainder filled in by myself.
viewing from the index area of the above map
The Prussian commander moving his heavy horse toward Dresden and the awaiting French. Later in the battle he would be reversing course!  While not strong, apparently the French artillery did sterling work.  
Overview- looking from the opposite westward view with Dresden on the right, the Allies to the left and the Great Garden (Grosse Garten) the landmark area of this battle made from a piece of hardboard for playability.

As I gave myself the “adjudicator” task, I was not intimate with all the actions of the game, moving from one small judgement situation to the next, but the game kinda followed history compressing the two days into one.  In the game, as on Day One, the Allies attacked in the middle forcing the French back to the artillery emplacements before the city. However, the French sprang back, in this case with good artillery support as per Day Two of the historic affair.  On the French right flank, BobE commanding most of the French cavalry with infantry outnumbered the Austrians who were separated from the rest of their army by a rain-swollen river crossable at only one point at Plausen.  Historically the Austrians were severely defeated in this area…as were the Austrian elements on the tabletop…

Marmont's French move to destroy the Austrians.  Elements of my French army.  While mine, the following photo shows four different painter's collections in action together.  They look good together.
the action in the centre and in the distance the Allies right/French left flank.

On the French left flank, DaveB, used the advantage of the French Guard elements to push back the Russians under Ian and Prussians under BobS to their breaking point.
See DaveB's blog post and his activities during the game/battle at: link with a very well written account.
We ended the game without the need to have the obvious happen having those commands inevitably rout off the board so ending with the situation very close to the historical battle.

Retreat from Moscow - at Enfilade!

The first of my three games I hosted at the Enfilade! convention in Olympia, Washington State USA, was a “Retreat from Moscow” affair conceived after learning the convention’s ‘winter’ theme, the fortuitous acquisition of the beautiful Perry sculpts, the ownership of a large white sheet which could be a tract of snow covered tabletop, and the re-conceiving of the church which I previously constructed but with which I was not entirely happy so I was quite willing to cover it modelled snow - all the parts of which a miniatures game may be made; except for the lack of the rules.

I am a firm believer that all convention games, with the accompanying noise level, player inexperience, and general confusion, must be of a simplistic level to work and be fun to play.  So I made these really simple!  If the participants are not playing the game unaided by the fourth turn, the rules are too challenging!  Generally 6s to hit, movement by standard stick, shooting range by the same, blob movement, no formations and above all, no morale.  “Morale”, the mental state of which our metal miniature representative conduct human emotional responses to combat situations on the tabletop can be the bane of rule writers and players alike…so I just said there are none. Units will continue until no figures remain.  None got to that stage in this game….some were close however!
As my game write up suggests, “ To surrender is to be killed, to give up is to die frozen, to run away is to die alone in the white vastness. Your only option is to fight and keep walking but that the Russians and nature may not allow.  It's fun in the snow!!  Simple rules for a simple game!” 

I had 7 players controlling their small units of either 6 foot or 3 horse of the retreating Grand Armee including Poles, Bavarians, French and a group of various other nations (for which the Perrys made) verses the Russian defenders of jagers and Cossacks but mainly small groups of armed peasants.
(l-r)  Bavarians, French cav on foot, French infantry and on road, one unit of Old Guard

All the aspects of the game are random, including the use of hidden cards indicating who next chooses his - or her - unit.  I had the two players who picked the jagers or Cossacks also move and roll for the peasants on their side of the table to speed up play.    The game flowed along with all the French players making it across the rather rickety bridge (a chance for figures falling to their deaths in the frozen river ) and “victory” in safety off the table.  

At first, most players were under the belief that it would be a very difficult task, as I suggested even by crossing some of the terrain could kill them; but, by the end of the game, they were suggesting for more dangerous approaches for the Retreaters!  As with randomness, sometimes the aspects were not that dangerous with the dice rolls; my favourite, the wild boars, proved rather ineffective on both occasions (!) and being shot with good musket fire so not having the chance to get their teeth into either French or Russian flesh.
Russian peasant group in a 'staging area' 

I was a bit surprised being judged best of session theme winner, and handed out the swag I was presented - small flashlight measure, tape/bottle-opener combo etc. -  to the players first over the bridge as a bit of a reward for their play.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Hussar Rampant action post Waterloo-ish

Hussar Rampant fictional action somewhere in southern Belgium, post Waterloo?

The French needed to get the wagons pack and moving. They also needed the squadrons active to counter the Allies horse attacking them.  They could not do both at the same time.
French wagons quickly (too quickly for the Allies) packing up and moving.  Perry metal horses (team separated) with Warbases MDF wagons.

….However, both Allies players (myself and ChrisP) failed our first activations even though Chris had accurately predicted his starting position (closer to the bridge to the French’s rear but harder the roll to do so but of which he was successful)  Because of the wagons/non-activation problem for the French, I gave them quite the points advantage which they used the numbers and tough cuirassiers to counter each of our attacks.
My badly handled 4th Dutch-Belgian Light Dragoons showing the new 'blown' markers - hussar pelisse left on the ground
Jim's cuirassiers verses my British Light Dragoons (left) and my converted Dutch-Belgian 5th Light Dragoons (right).  The fight to cross or defend the bridge lasted the entire game.
Though much of the discussion of the rules could be clarified if I could remember them (!) or remember to look them up (!) I guess they survived.  But combat over the wooden bridge was controversial to such a point that I exclaimed, “Note to self - no more bridges in scenarios!!”
"Illegal" formations made by ChrisP due to my rather poor instructions about river crossings and requirements for combat .
This was corrected but poor ChrisP never did cross the river to assault the retreating wagons due to the attentions of JimF.  
SteveA came over to have the rules a go and give them a tough 'tug'.  His very young step-son was given the command of the two squadrons of French Chasseurs light horse.  While the kid's rolling for all of dad's combat was quite good, he failed ALL of his own activations so thus these horse remained inactive for the game.  The good thing for the French were that they were really not needed! In the background, the cuirassiers were doing yeomen service forcing off my D-B attacks.

You may note in the photos the use of a new version of our “blown” marker - a discarded hussar’s pelisse in light blue with some of the units during the game.  With the number of Perry plastic hussar boxes I have used in the past while, I have a lot of them left over which I decided to put to good use.  These can be used in conjunction with our normal ‘horse-head’ markers. Any marker would do, but these have a nice aesthetic look.
My Dutch-Belgian Carabinier heavy horse.  Perry plastics converted from dragoons and modified.  The two pelisse markers does suggest the front squadron is in trouble!

Humorous event from the game:  poor JimF was lamenting about the lances he manages to knock off his metal figures each game.  Well, surprisingly he did not knock off a single lance this affair - it was instead the eagle standard off the cuirassiers to much amusement of the other players. least the broken piece was not a lance!  (Jim's French 13th Cuirassiers in 'Spanish brown' and the broken piece)